I was a little negligent with the blog yesterday, but I thought I'd fire off a few quick thoughts before I head out to the local neighborhood watering hole to watch some football.
1) I talked to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. Friday night and he told me the Phillies had been "very aggressive" on the first day of free agency, talking to the representatives of more than 20 free agents whom they have identified as potential fits. That said, the name of the game this offseason will be patience. The Phillies' two most pressing needs -- a resolutation to their situation in left field and another arm or two for the bullpen -- happen to be in places where there isn't a glut of free agent talent.
2) The bullpen: The Phillies aren't going to be one of the teams throwing money at guys like Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes. Instead, they are looking at either a durable arm who can pitch multiple innings or a set-up man who can lock down the eighth inning (or both). While Ryan Madson pitched very well in the postseason, he hasn't proven that he can thrive in that role over the course of an entire season. There aren't a ton of bona fide options out there. Diamondbacks righty Juan Cruz is an intriguing name, but most of the other options are veteran guys. Amaro said he likes experience in the bullpen, but two of the biggest names - Doug Brocail and Russ Springer - are Type A free agents who would require the forfeiture of a first round draft pick if they sign. That would seem to make a potential signing difficult. However, keep in mind that the Phillies will get a pick if they don't re-sign Pat Burrell.
3) Left field: This is the one that I am guessing will take the most time. I don't get the indication that Burrell is going to be rolling in serious offers anytime soon. And right now, the out field market seems to be dominated by Manny Ramirez. It will be interesting to see where Ramirez lands, because whoever he doesn't land with will suddenly be moving on to the lower-tier outfielders. Remember, Aaron Rowand didn't sign until mid-December last year.